From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : GHG Emissions
Mains level : climate change and food insecurity
The article underscores the critical challenges of climate change and food insecurity facing humanity. It emphasizes the significance of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as a holistic approach, promoting sustainable development, resilience to climate change, and greenhouse gas emission reduction.
- Global Challenges: Addressing climate change and food insecurity as critical global issues.
- Impact on Agriculture: Discussing the negative effects of climate change on agriculture, leading to increased challenges for farmers.
- Holistic Solution: Introducing climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as a holistic solution to adaptation and mitigation challenges.
- Emphasizing Importance: Highlighting the importance of CSA in enhancing resilience, improving productivity, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Government Initiatives: Citing Indian government initiatives promoting CSA, such as the National Adaptation Fund and Soil Health Mission.
- Climate Risks: Analyzing the substantial risks posed by climate change to agricultural productivity, with India potentially facing a 9% decline in crop yield.
- Need for Reforms: Discussing the need for significant reforms in the agriculture industry to adapt traditional farming practices to climate change.
- Transformative Approach: Emphasizing the requirement for a radical transformation of the agriculture sector to achieve sustainable development goals.
- Holistic Approach: Exploring the concept of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and its three pillars.
- Precision Farming: Highlighting the importance of precision farming in optimizing agricultural methods.
- Climate-Resilient Agriculture: Describing the role of CSA in building resilience against climate change.
- Agroforestry and Carbon Sequestration: Identifying specific CSA measures for environmental benefits.
- Paris Agreement: Linking CSA to global initiatives such as the Paris Agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Key Examples and References:
- Global Efforts: Noting community-supported agriculture efforts worldwide as examples of CSA in action.
- Specific Measures: Citing studies from the northwest Indo-Gangetic Plain showcasing the benefits of CSA for wheat production.
- Government Support: Referring to government initiatives in India, including the Soil Health Card Scheme.
- International Frameworks: Connecting CSA to international frameworks like the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
- Climate Impact: Highlighting the potential 9% decline in crop yield in India due to climate change.
- GHG Emissions: Noting agriculture’s significant share (17%) in greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.
- Economic Autonomy: Pointing out the economic autonomy gained by farmers through CSA implementation.
- Government Initiatives: Providing data on government spending on initiatives like the National Adaptation Fund.
- Urgency of Action: Emphasizing the urgency of addressing climate change’s impact on agriculture and the need for a comprehensive approach like CSA.
- Positive Outcomes: Discussing the positive outcomes of CSA, including economic autonomy for farmers and benefits to biodiversity conservation.
- Localized Responses: Highlighting the importance of localized responses to climate change and the role of CSA in meeting international obligations.
- Investment in Capacity-Building: Recommending continued investment in capacity-building programs for CSA.
- Knowledge Dissemination: Emphasizing the importance of providing practical tools and knowledge for the adoption of CSA.
- Triple Goals: Stating the role of CSA in ensuring food security, empowering farmers, and protecting ecosystems.
- Unique Juncture in India: Recognizing the unique juncture in India where CSA adoption is essential due to climate vulnerability and agricultural significance.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Kerala Organic Farming Mission
Mains level : NA
- In a proactive move towards sustainable and climate-smart farming, the Kerala Government has launched the Organic Farming Mission.
Kerala Organic Farming Mission
|Expand organic farming to 5,000 hectares in 5 years
|Convert 1,000 hectares annually
|Governing council chaired by Agriculture Minister
Executive committee with government and farm sector reps
|State Agriculture department’s farms allocate 10% for organic
|Beneficiaries commit to organic farming for at least 5 years
|Certification & Marketing
|Enhance certification, branding, and marketing
Implement organic farming protocols aligned with standards
|Focus on adding value to organic products
|Access to Resources
|Ensure access to quality seeds and production equipment
Utilize various channels like small-scale units, collectives,Karshika Karma Sena, Kudumbasree, Krishisree Centre, Agro Service Centres
|Collaborate with Krishikoottam collectives and FPOs
|Poshaka Samriddhi Mission dedicated to millet and vegetable production for sustainable agriculture
Complementary Mission: Poshaka Samriddhi
- In addition to the Organic Farming Mission, the Kerala Government created the Poshaka Samriddhi Mission in September 2023.
- This initiative is dedicated to ramping up millet and vegetable production, furthering the state’s commitment to sustainable agriculture.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : ZBNF
Mains level : Promotion of Organic Farming
Women farmers in the hill State of Himachal Pradesh are gradually turning to non-chemical, low cost “natural farming”, under the Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Yojana (PK3Y).
Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Yojana
- Launched in 2018, the State’s PK3Y is promoting the climate resilient Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF), also called ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’.
- Over 1.5 lakh farmers have been trained in natural farming in the State so far, with substantial numbers of women participants.
About Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)?
- ZBNF is a set of farming methods, and also a grassroots peasant movement, which has spread to various states in India.
- Subhash Palekar perfected it during the 1990s at his farm in Amravati district in Maharashtra’s drought-prone Vidarbha region.
- According to the “zero budget” concept, farmers won’t have to spend any money on fertilisers and other agricultural inputs.
- Over 98% of the nutrients that crops require — carbon dioxide, nitrogen, water, solar energy — are already present in nature.
- The remaining 1.5-2% are taken from the soil, after microorganisms convert them from “non-
Four Wheels of ZBNF
The “four wheels” of ZBNF are ‘Jiwamrita’, ‘Bijamrita’, ‘Mulching’ and ‘Waaphasa’.
- Jiwamrita is a fermented mixture of cow dung and urine (of desi breeds), jaggery, pulses flour, water and soil from the farm bund.
- This isn’t a fertiliser, but just a source of some 500 crore micro-organisms that can convert all the necessary “non-available” nutrients into “available” form.
- Bijamrita is a mix of desi cow dung and urine, water, bund soil and lime that is used as a seed treatment solution prior to sowing.
- Mulching, or covering the plants with a layer of dried straw or fallen leaves, is meant to conserve soil moisture and keep the temperature around the roots at 25-32 degrees Celsius, which allows the microorganisms to do their job.
- Waaphasa, or providing water to maintain the required moisture-air balance, also achieves the same objective.
Astra’s of ZBNF against pest attacks
- ZBNF advocates the use of special ‘Agniastra’, ‘Bramhastra’ and ‘Neemastra’ concoctions.
- They are based on cow urine and dung, plus pulp from leaves of neem, white datura, papaya, guava and pomegranates — for controlling pest and disease attacks.
Is it organic farming?
- ZBNF uses farmyard manure or vermicompost.
However, not all farmers are convinced about ZBNF. Why?
- Cost of labour: The cost of labour for collection of dung and urine, apart from the other inputs used in preparation of Jiwamrita, Neemastra or Bramhastra is quit higher.
- Bovine cost: Keeping cows is also a cost that has to be accounted for. Farmers cannot afford to keep desi cows that yield very little milk.
- Vulnerability to pest attacks: ZBNF is scarcely practiced. The crop grown would be vulnerable to attacks by insects and pests have already become pest-immune.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Biochar and its application
Mains level : Use as organic farming option
A new research has shown that Biochar application is more effective in promoting pulses growth and yield in Ghana.
Try this PYQ:
Q.In the context of which one of the following are the terms ‘pyrolysis and plasma gasification’ mentioned? (CSP 2019)
(a) Extraction of rare earth elements
(b) Natural gas extraction technologies
(c) Hydrogen fuel-based automobiles
(d) Waste-to-energy technologies
What is Biochar?
- Biochar is a high-carbon, fine-grained residue that is currently produced through modern pyrolysis processes (direct thermal decomposition of biomass in the absence of oxygen and preventing combustion).
- It produces a mixture of solids (the biochar proper), liquid (bio-oil), and gas (syngas) products.
- Biochar may increase soil fertility of acidic soils (low pH soils), increase agricultural productivity, and provide protection against some foliar and soil-borne diseases.
- Carbon Sink: The burning and natural decomposition of biomass releases large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane to the Earth’s atmosphere. The biochar production process also releases CO2 (up to 50% of the biomass); however the remaining carbon content is stable indefinitely.
- Soil Amendment: Biochar is recognized as offering a number of soil health benefits. The extremely porous nature of biochar is found to be effective at retaining both water and water-soluble nutrients. Its presence in the earth can improve water quality, increase soil fertility, raise agricultural productivity, and reduce pressure on old-growth forests.
- Water retention: Biochar is hygroscopic. Thus it is a desirable soil material in many locations due to its ability to attract and retain water.
What is Pyrolysis?
- Pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures in an inert atmosphere.
- It involves a change in chemical composition. The word is coined from the Greek-derived elements pyro “fire” and lysis “separating”.
- It is most commonly used in the treatment of organic materials. It is one of the processes involved in charring wood.
- It is considered as the first step in the processes of gasification or combustion.
How does it work?
- In general, pyrolysis of organic substances produces volatile products and leaves a solid residue enriched in carbon, char.
- Extreme pyrolysis, which leaves mostly carbon as the residue, is called carbonization.
- The process is used heavily in the chemical industry, for example, to produce ethylene, many forms of carbon, and other chemicals from petroleum, coal, and even wood, to produce coke from coal.
The market for organic food in this country is likely to treble in the next four years, according to a report from business chamber Assocham and TechSci Research, a non-government body.
- What is organic farming?
- Need for organic farming in India
- Key characteristics of organic farming
- Steps taken by the Government to promote organic farming in India
- Key features of PKVY
- Status of Organic farming in India
- Why demand for organic products are increasing in recent years?
- Challenges and constraints faced by Organic farming in India
What is organic farming?
Organic farming system in India is not new and is being followed from ancient time.
It is a method of farming system which primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way, as to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (biofertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an eco friendly pollution free environment.
Need for organic farming in India
With the increase in population our compulsion would be not only to stabilize agricultural production but to increase it further in sustainable manner.
The scientists have realized that the ‘Green Revolution’ with high input use has reached a plateau and is now sustained with diminishing return of falling dividends.
Thus, a natural balance needs to be maintained at all cost for existence of life and property. The obvious choice for that would be more relevant in the present era, when these agrochemicals which are produced from fossil fuel and are not renewable and are diminishing in availability. It may also cost heavily on our foreign exchange in future.
The key characteristics of organic farming include
- Protecting the long term fertility of soils by maintaining organic matter levels, encouraging soil biological activity, and careful mechanical intervention
- Providing crop nutrients indirectly using relatively insoluble nutrient sources which are made available to the plant by the action of soil micro-organisms
- Nitrogen self-sufficiency through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation, as well as effective recycling of organic materials including crop residues and livestock manures
- Weed, disease and pest control relying primarily on crop rotations, natural predators, diversity, organic manuring, resistant varieties and limited (preferably minimal) thermal, biological and chemical intervention
- The extensive management of livestock, paying full regard to their evolutionary adaptations, behavioral needs and animal welfare issues with respect to nutrition, housing, health, breeding and rearing
- Careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats
Steps taken by the Government to promote organic farming in India
Government is promoting Organic farming through various schèmes
- National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF)
- National Horticulture Mission (NHM)
- Horticulture Mission for North East and Himalyan States (HMNEH)
- Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY)
- Network Project on Organic Farming of Indian Council Agricultural Research (ICAR).
- In addition to this, Government is implementing a Cluster based programme to encourage the farmer for promoting organic farming called Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)
Key features of PKVY
- Groups of farmers would be motivated to take up organic farming under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY). Fifty or more farmers will form a cluster having 50 acre land to take up the organic farming under the scheme.
- In this way during three years 10,000 clusters will be formed covering 5.0 lakh acre area under organic farming. There will be no liability on the farmers for expenditure on certification.
- Every farmer will be provided Rs. 20,000 per acre in three years for seed to harvesting of crops and to transport produce to the market.
- Organic farming will be promoted by using traditional resources and the organic products will be linked with the market.
- It will increase domestic production and certification of organic produce by involving farmers
Status of Organic farming in India
- The current market (pulses and foodgrain the bulk) of organic food is at $500 million (about Rs 3,350 crore). It was $360 million (Rs 2,400 crore) in 2014.
- Although nascent, the Indian organic food market has begun growing rapidly in last few years. A report by Yes Bank in 2014 said that the organic food sector is growing at about 20% in India, with more than 100 retail organic outlets in Mumbai and about 60 in Bangalore.
- Total area under organic certification in India in 2013-14 is estimated to be 4.72 million ha with 15 per cent are certified and the rest under forest area. India has the highest number of organic producers in the world (5,97,873), mainly due to small holdings.
- During 2013-14, India exported 135 products, realisation from which was to the tune of $403, million including $183 million contributed by exports of organic textile. Major destinations for organic products from India are the US, EU, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, South-East Asian countries, West Asia, South Africa, etc.
- Soyabean (70 per cent) lead among the products exported followed by cereals and millets other than basmati (six per cent), processed food products (five per cent), basmati rice (four per cent), sugar (three per cent), tea (two per cent), pulses and lentils (one per cent), dry fruits (one per cent), spices (one per cent).
Why is the demand for organic products increasing in recent years
Challenges and constraints faced by Organic farming in India
- The most important issue facing organic farming is its failure to raise the productivity to keep pace with the growing population. Studies, according to a latest report in The Wall Street Journal, have shown that organic yields are far less than yields of conventional farming. As per the 2011 survey data of National Agricultural Statistics Service, a branch of the US organic farming would require 14.5 million acres more to equal conventional farming’s production of 14 staple (human-focused food crops).
- There is a wide gap in scientific validation and research compared to the progress in the same for general agriculture. Also, there is a need to aid farmers with advisory services (technical and managerial support to form cluster and adopt best management practices).
- Due to lack of government support, the courage needed to convert inorganic land into organic land is missing also there is absence of globally recognized consultancy for timely guidance to farmers. Thus, huge support from states and the Centre is required.
- Key problems faced by organic farmers during the transition phase are non-realisation of premium.